Danish Architecture Guide

Odense Inner City Spaces

The street pattern in Odense inner city is basically from the Middle Ages, broken here and there by streets laid out in later times. In recent years, a good deal of Odense inner city has been renovated, with respect for the city's tradition for tiled paving. Earlier renovations involved pavements and squares paved with fine old Hasle paving tiles, with a great play of colours; more recently, other paving in a variety of shades has been used.

Our tour will pass through a number of these more recent urban spaces and along the River Odense, which winds prominently through the landscape and provides the city with a number of wonderful green spaces in conjunction with parks such as Kongens Have and Lotzes Have.

The tour starts at Banegårdspladsen, the square near the station on Østre Stationsvej. This square is one of the new urban areas, created in connection with a building project opposite the Odense Station Centre on a site which had hitherto simply been a disregarded parking lot. The square dates from 2005; the statue of Hans Christian Andersen is by Bjørn Nørgaard.

Parks and squares
Banegårdspladsen adjoins the Kongens Have park, which is connected with the palace, Odense Slot. The park was partly redesigned in 2009: it was opened up towards the surrounding streets and new decorative lighting of Odense Slot and other sections of the park was installed. The new design is the result of an architectural competition, won by Erik Brandt Dam.

We walk on from Kongens Have southwards towards Jernbanegade and Gråbrødre Plads square. On the way we pass Odense Theatre and the Funen Art Gallery, both of which have a plaza in front. The theatre plaza is paved with various kinds of granite; the art gallery plaza has original Hasle paving tiles and sett paving, and is adorned with bronze sculptures and other works.

Approaching Gråbrødre Plads, we pass the old Greyfriars Friary, which has an interior courtyard visible from the street, clearly marked from a distance by the spreading crown of a tree.

The present appearance of Gråbrødre Plads is the result of an architectural competition won by GHB Landscape Architects and Professor Steen Høyer. From Gråbrødre Plads we move on to Lille Gråbrødre Stræde, which in 2009 was covered with the same dark-coloured paving tiles as the square.

We turn left along Odense's main street, Vestergade. This section of the street is a pedestrian precinct and has recently been repaved with paving tiles, edged with black granite kerbs. New street lighting has been installed, and the designers have experimented with new types of paving tiles, benches and rubbish bins. The bench and rubbish bin situated near Asylgade were designed by Erik Brandt Dam and decorated by Sonja Brandes. Odense takes its name from the Norse god, Odin, so the decorations on the bench and rubbish bin use Odin motifs, as do the manhole covers in the city centre.

It is only a short walk to Flakhaven, Odense's town-hall square, situated in the district known as Klingenberg, which is one of the oldest and most central urban areas in the city, with many streets and squares. We walk across Sct. Knuds Plads square in the direction of Albani Church. When we reach Torvegade with its heavy traffic, we turn left and cross the road at the traffic lights on the intersection of Vestergade and Overgade. We continue on the left towards Bangs Boder, where you can enter Lotzes Have. This was originally an apothecary garden, but today it is a public park and recreation area: throughout the summer the Hans Christian Andersen Parade puts on free performances here. The garden was last renovated at the end of the 1990s, though the new outdoor stage, designed to look like a castle, was set up in 2009. From the garden there is access to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum and the children's cultural centre, 'Fyrtøjet' ('The Tinder Box'), constructed around the house where Hans Christian Andersen was born.

From Lotzes Have, we walk on along the left side of Bangs Boder to Overstræde and then turn right towards Overgade. Overgade is a section of one of the original highways across the island of Funen and shares with Vestergade the distinction of being the oldest street in the city. It was converted into a pedestrian precinct and paved with granite in 1996. It was the first street section to be so converted in recent times, and was an experiment by the local authority in the use of granite and in mixing different types of traffic: cyclists and pedestrians move at the same street level with no distinct separation of tracks, though the cycling area is marked by a wider section of the granite flagstones and pedestrians have to be wary of fast cyclists! On Overgade we turn right where the street meets Nedergade and Påskestræde at the little square called Skjolden. In the square there is a sculpture of 'The Brave Tin Soldier' by Eiler Madsen, the sculptor who also made the army of small soldier-bollards that surrounds the square. Characteristic of these bronze works are lots of quirky little details, such as jelly babies.

Places to stop along the River Odense
Our tour continues along the romantic Påskestræde to the River Odense, passing along the way the old poor house school which Hans Christian Andersen attended. On the bank there is a reconstruction of a washing place, recalling the place where Hans Christian Andersen's mother did her washing. Here you turn right and follow the riverside path, past the old Odense Chapter for Noble Ladies and under the Albani Bridge to the Hans Christian Andersen gardens, one of the city's fine riverside parks (also called 'Eventyrhaven' – the 'Fairy-Tale Garden'). On the right you can see some of the more attractive recent buildings, such as the Realkredit Danmark building and further on Sct. Knuds Church. This church, with what remains of the medieval monastery, serves as the cathedral for Odense. Make sure you take time to walk through the lovely section of the park on the island in the Eventyrhaven. You will normally find seasonal flowers in full bloom among the benches and small fountains. These gardens were laid out in the 1940's by the renowned Danish landscape architect, C. Th. Sørensen, but were considerably altered during renovation in 1986. Near the monastery buildings beside the cathedral there is yet another attractive little garden, the Klosterhaven ('Monastery Garden'). This old herb garden is a peaceful oasis in the middle of the busy city. Below Klosterhaven in the park area by the river there is a cafe in the summer months with an open-air dance theatre, with regular dance performances throughout the summer. We continue now along the riverside path, crossing the little bridge from the island and then taking the next bridge on the right, from where the path continues.

On the south side of the river we pass an activity area with a skateboard track and other facilities. We continue on along the path, which crosses Hunderupvej, one of the best approach roads to the city. On the left is the Technical College and on the right a row of attractive old houses. The path leads on to the Munke Mose park, where the river curves around the sculpture called 'Havhesten' ('The Seahorse') and the sluice bridge with its foaming waters all around. On the other side of the sluice lies the newly-constructed Saaby’s Stryg, a fauna passage in the river designed by Palle Andersen, SBS/Europlan, which became a popular place for excursions and relaxation straight after its inauguration. From Saaby’s Stryg we continue on the same bank along the riverside path to the playground, situated on the left a little further south between two small islands. The playground has special play equipment and its proximity to the water allows for a little area for water play. Close by there is a fitness playground for adults with outdoor equipment that adds an extra dimension to the daily run.

We now walk back to Saaby’s Stryg and the sluice bridge. Cross the sluice bridge and have a look at the trompe l'oeil mural on the wall of 'Teaterhuset', before continuing towards the city centre along Ny Vestergade. We turn to the right at Vestergade and walk along to No. 73, where you find the gateway to the exhibition centre, Brandts Klædefabrik ('Brandt’s Textile Mill'). Brandts Passage links a number of attractive squares and other spaces, some narrow, some broader. We turn left at Farveriet ('The Dye-Works') to reach the newly-renovated Farvergården courtyard on the other side of the building.

A harmonious city centre
We cross Farvergården and walk through the narrow alley by the Music Library. From Amfipladsen square we continue to the right past the Post Office and Svendehjemmet ('The Apprentices Hostel') to Kongestien. We continue from here on the left past the gateway building to Brandts Torv square, designed by Schønherr Landskab and laid out in 2004. This square is part of the road network, so watch out for the traffic!

Looking east you can see a little street with Claus Ørntoft's granite sculpture, 'Fisken', with the head of a bull and a ram at each end of the street.
From Brandts Torv we continue on to the left towards the chimney that is a landmark for the whole area. At the chimney, the narrow Pantheons Passage leads on past the Centre for Back Surgery to Pantheonsgade. Pantheons Passage was renovated with new paving and lighting when this private hospital was built in 2008. Details worth mentioning are: an underground waste disposal centre for the whole Brandts area, floodlighting of the chimney, and staircase lighting at the Centre for Back Surgery. As a result, the whole area now presents itself as safe and attractive, a contrast to the backyard atmosphere of former times.

We turn left at Pantheonsgade and walk on until we again arrive at the little decorative fountain on Amfipladsen square. This fountain is part of the renovation project for the whole Rosenbækkarréen area. We follow the running water over Pantheonsgade and into Rosenbækkarréen, largely a residential district. The water leads us on through new and attractive, tile-paved courtyards flanked by imposing buildings with accommodation for young people and a rich variety of artistic decoration. First we pass Kalhauge's granite sculpture, 'Elverhøj', then Eiler Madsen's two-part sculpture, 'De fem vise mænd' ('The Five Wise Men'). At a turn in the water course we are given a hint as to what men the sculpture is about. Following the water on down to the square in front of the neighbourhood culture centre, a number of busts at the end of the water course finally reveal whom the sculptor has chosen to portray.

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